Research Project

Controlling Trachoma and Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis Among the Indigenous Populations of Medio Vaupés, Colombia

Strategies for Strengthening Technical Capacities in the Implementation of the Integrated Campaign of Co-Administration of Azithromycin-Albendazole

Summary

A mixed-methods study on how to improve the implementation of integrated campaigns for controlling neglected infectious diseases in Medio Vaupés, Colombia.

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Colombia

Medio Vaupés

Neglected Infectious Diseases

  • Involve community leaders in planning
  • Continuously train and educate campaign personnel and community leaders
  • See more.

Key Messages

Through this study, Universidad de los Andes examined how to strengthen integrated campaigns that address neglected infectious diseases (NIDs) in Medio Vaupés, Colombia.

  • To promote sustainability, campaigns must prioritize strong technical capacities among personnel. 
  • Ongoing training for campaign staff on how to diagnose, treat, and monitor NIDs advances quality and equity in the delivery of NID interventions.
  • Training that advances community leaders’ understanding of NIDs promotes successful implementation of integrated campaigns to address these diseases.
  • To ensure that integrated campaigns are relevant to the intended communities, planning must involve all stakeholders, including representatives of Indigenous groups.
  • In addition, planning for integrated campaigns must include evaluation considerations. 
  • Standardized data collection tools support effective campaign monitoring and evaluation.

Background

Context

In Medio Vaupés, Colombia, neglected infectious diseases (NIDs) pose a significant public health concern, with infectious diseases that affect the gastrointestinal system acting as the second-highest source of mortality in this area. In response, a plan was developed for administering azithromycin, albendazole, and sulfur vaseline to control NIDs among the Indigenous population in Medio Vaupés.

Problems or Gap

The plan for addressing NIDs in Medio Vaupés articulates a need to enhance the technical capacity of those who deliver the NID interventions. 

Research Objectives

The objective of this study was to analyze technical and pedagogical strategies to strengthen the technical capacities of health personnel who are implementing the mass drug administration of azithromycin, albendazole, and sulfur ointment to control NIDs in Medio Vaupés, Colombia.

For details on the methods, please see the slides or research brief.

Image above: The study location was Medio Vaupés, Colombia.

Results

Summary

This mixed-methods study explored ways to strengthen the implementation of an integrated mass drug administration campaign to control neglected infectious diseases (NIDs) in Medio Vaupés, Colombia. Researchers primarily focused on strategies for improving the knowledge and technical capacities of campaign personnel. 

  • Overall, health campaigns were not sufficiently carried out in the communities studied.
  • Researchers commonly encountered the following public health issues:
    • Chronic non-communicable diseases, especially hypertension and diabetes
    • Pregnancy-related diseases 
    • Health issues stemming from accidents and natural disasters
  • With an average travel time of four hours in Medio Vaupés, long travel distances to access health care services posed a substantial challenge for many communities.
  • Inadequate communication about health campaigns was another common obstacle to receiving interventions in this area.
  • Schools offered an effective avenue for educating communities about trachoma, and children often motivated others to participate in the corresponding campaign. 
  • Testing revealed that NIDs, including scabies, myasis, pediculosis, leishmaniasis, filariasis, and parasitic diseases, were present in 70% of community members who reported symptoms of parasitism. 
  • Training on trachoma elimination and soil-transmitted helminths control increased personnel knowledge about these campaigns, as evidenced by improved performance on training evaluations.

Key Point

A combination of dialectic and non-dialectic tools promotes the uptake of public health campaigns, especially in Indigenous communities.

Planning and training in integrated campaigns for prevention and treatment of neglected diseases in Vaupés, Colombia.

  • Educate community leaders about neglected infectious diseases (NIDs).
  • Provide continuous training for health personnel on diagnosing, treating, and monitoring NIDs.
  • Unite all stakeholders, including representatives of Indigenous groups, around common goals.
  • Involve all community leaders in the micro-planning process and seek their input on the sociocultural community contexts.
  • Design sustainable solutions that fit the needs of the community or area served. 
  • Begin monitoring and process evaluation as early as possible. 
  • Implement tools to standardize the processes of diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up.

Photo Credit: University of the Andes